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Having time to ourselves is really important – it is healthy and normal. Many of my “kids” complain they need more “me time” yet they find it hard to schedule in and do not always understand this need in others.

Click on the image above to jump to the video which talks about why we needs time to ourselves and what it means when others need their own space.

We are so very BUSY these days – children, teens and adults are genuinely in danger of being massively over-scheduled. For children and teens, there’s school, after schools clubs, outside school activities and sports, play-dates (or hanging out with friends is you’re a teen!), homework, studying, sleepovers, family expectations, travel time – the list is endless. Not to mention the massive amount of time they and us spend on our phones or mobile devises. Yet the one thing we ALL need, and the one thing we struggle to fit in is “me time.”

I talk to so many of my child and teen clients who have the same complaint – they want more downtime and think the solution is to stay up later. It is a constant irony to me that I also thought this when I was younger and now would be horrified at having to stay up to 11pm on a school night! (Or maybe I am just boring!)

What is “ME TIME”?

Me time, or downtime, is the time we spend doing things by ourselves that enable us to “re-group” and recharge our mental, batteries. We all spend a great deal of our time with other people, giving to or doing things for others. As such, it is imperative that we take a bit of time for ourselves. It is healthy and normal.

Taking this time enables us to, quite literally, connect with ourselves. It allows us time to think, reflect and gives us space to form our own ideas, identify our own values and opinions. Ensuring that we take this times means we are able to be more active, creative, relaxed and be more productive and enjoy the time we spend with others.

what downtime isn’t

  • selfish
  • isolating
  • lonely
  • boring
  • unimportant
  • unproductive

How to have downtime

Broadly, downtime or me time is when you are taking time out from your usual routine. It is a break, a pause or a stop from the busyness of your day. Perhaps playing a computer game is relaxing for you and that enables you to recharge your batteries. however, taking time to out the phone away is very important.

  • Schedule it in – a walk, a coffee away from others and your computer, meditation, or any form of exercise where you can switch off or turn down the internal monologue of houghts, worries, opinions and to-do lists
  • Focus on yourself – who you are as a person
  • Exercise
  • Small frequent breaks
  • Don’t apologize for taking time for yourself.

Explaining it to your children

Children can be hurt when friends say no to a play date or are having a quiet day. It’s easy for them to think something is wring or that it is “their fault”.

  • Talk about what downtime is and why we need it
  • Give them some examples of what to say if they need downtime, “Thanks for the invite! Today I really need a bit of my own space – but let’s play another time, i would like that.”
  • “I just need a bit of me time – there isn’t anything you have done – I’ll talk to you later.”
  • Not everything is about THEM – they didn’t do anything wrong, the other person is still their friend, it is just they they need their own space.
  • Part of being a good friend (and family member) is recognizing the signs that others just need a bit of space and respecting that boundary.
  • See if from another point of view – they need space – and so do other people.
  • Highlight the benefits of having space: they will be less stressed or snappy, they will feel refreshed and energized, they will have more things to talk about when they next see their friend.

Please don’t under-estimate the need for your own space, as well as your children having time to themselves. It’s all too easy to quickly become overwhelmed and it can lead to that feeling of being burnt out. Take the time you need BEFORE you need it – as it is one true way of bringing you back to being you again.

What are your children’s thoughts on downtime? Let me know!